EDIT: to include a short Mike Moser highlight. Fasten your seatbelts, this is a long post.
With the recent news that Memphis transfer and Oregon target Tarik Black will sign with the Kansas Jayhawks, I thought it would be a good time to talk about Oregon's recruiting class.
First, the numbers: Oregon welcomes 8 players in the 2013 class, though only 6 of them count against the scholarship limit (the Robinson twins are on football scholarships). 3 players in the class are transfers (Mike Moser, Elgin Cook, and Jalil Abdul-Bassit), while the other 5 are incoming freshmen. Oregon's class is one of the largest in the country but despite that they still have 1-2 scholarships remaining (the second depending on whether AJ Lapray chooses to grey-shirt).
The class has several players who are rated 4 stars by at least one recruiting outlet: Mike Moser, Jordan Bell, Elgin Cook, and Tyree Robinson. Nationally, the class is ranked #45 by 247Sports, tied for 39th by Scout, outside the top 30 by Rivals, and outside the top 40 by ESPN, though it appears these rankings don't take into account Mike Moser's commitment. Despite the number of commits, as many or more than any team in front of them, Oregon's class is not being heralded by anyone outside the University. Don't let that fool you. Oregon has signed an excellent class.
Last year's class was ranked 39th by 247Sports and similarly by other recruiting outlets. Damyean Dotson was unranked or 3 stars by most recruiting services. Yet that class has produced arguably the top back court in the conference and a budding power forward who got better as the season wore on in Ben Carter.
In college basketball it's less about recruiting top talent than it is about developing it. Just ask UCLA, Wichita State, Butler, VCU, etc. And in Dana Altman, the Ducks have found an outstanding teacher and in-game coach whose teams have exceeded expectations in each of his first three years. Now, Dana Altman welcomes his deepest and most dynamic class since arriving in Eugene.
The majority of Altman's success is due to his ability to seamlessly integrate transfer players with those left over from the Ernie Kent era. Here are a few notes on each transfer player in this year's class:
Mike Moser: the latest signing and the most important piece to this class, Moser will be a fifth year senior who is eligible to play right away. He can play power forward or on the wing, can knock down shots when called upon, but is best known for his ability to run the floor, crash the glass, and finish in traffic. He was a four star player out of high school and an Honorable Mention All-American during his sophomore year at UNLV. Injured for much of last year, he is now healthy and looking to have his best year yet as he returns to his home state of Oregon. Moser should step in right away as the starting power forward.
Elgin Cook: A junior college transfer from NW Florida State, Cook has three years of eligibility with the Ducks. He averaged around 15 points and 6 rebs last year while shooting better than 60% from the floor. A great athlete and defender, Cook was named to the NJCAA all tournament team and is ranked as the #1 Junior College small forward by Brad Winton of JucoRecruiting.com. Cook chose Oregon over offers from Gonzaga, Arkansas, Washington, and Illinois, among many others. The starting small forward position is probably Cook's to lose.
Jalil Abdul-Bassit: Abdul-Bassit was almost unheard of before he committed to the Ducks, though like Moser and Cook he did have an offer from Washington. Lorenzo Romar has shown a penchant for identifying talented wing players so nabbing 3 of them from under his nose is a huge recruiting victory. Jalil averaged 13 points last season, shooting 45% from the field and 38.5% from three. It is expected that he will back up the 2 and 3 positions for the Ducks.
As successful as Altman has been at integrating junior college players, building program depth and continuity going forward is paramount. With Carter, Dotson, and Artis, Altman has an outstanding core. The five freshman he's recruited this year should complement and strengthen that core going forward:
Jordan Bell: Bell is a four star power forward from Long Beach who had offers from Memphis, Texas, UConn, and Washington, among many others. He is a high flyer who can run the floor and is best known for his defense and shot-blocking ability. It is very likely that as a freshman Bell will be a key contributor off the bench, much the same way that Ben Carter was last season. A better defender than Carter, Bell should be counted on to provide energy and create turnovers for the Ducks.
Christiano Felicio: Felicio is one of the mysteries in this class as he has only been in the United States for a short time. Originally from Brazil, Felicio is 20 years old but still an incoming freshman for scholarship and academic purposes. Felico is raw but intriguing, as you can see from this DraftExpress profile. While Felicio has signed with the Ducks, there are rumors that his eligibility may be in jeopardy. Felicio is a big sleeper recruit who is nimble for his size and extremely athletic, as you can see in this video:
AJ Lapray: Lapray is a local kid from Sprague High School in Salem. As a junior Lapray was a second-team all-state selection in class 6A, averaging 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists a game. He
played his senior basketball at Evangel Christian in Richmond, Virginia and is a big sleeper recruit who could grey-shirt during his freshman season.
Tyree and Tyrell Robinson: Tyree is considered by many pundits to be a top 150 player and the better basketball prospect of the twins. Ranked four stars by several recruiting outlets coming into his senior season, his basketball game has not garnered as much attention as his play on the football field but he is a player that could definitely contribute down the road. The same can be said about Tyrell. The two brothers are extremely athletic and could play a variety of positions on offense or defense for the football team. And both kids can ball, as you'll see by their basketball mixtapes below. Keep in mind that these videos were made between their sophomore and junior seasons in high school:
It is very difficult to make the transition from football to basketball during your freshman season, so the twins should not be counted on to contribute to the basketball team next year. But don't be surprised if they develop into valuable contributors down the line. Both played with the elite Oakland Soldiers AAU team and have shown toughness, defense, and athleticism on the basketball court, traits which should carry over nicely to college.
With 1-2 spots available, expect Altman and his staff to continue looking for another front court player to further offset the departures of Kazemi, Singler, Woods, and Emory. Recall that Waverly Austin and Arsalan Kazemi weren't added until September last year. But even if the class stays as is, know that the Ducks have addressed their most pressing needs in the front court and should be a NCAA tourney (if not top 25) team again next year.